Sierra Schmidt‘s gold medal in today’s 800 free at the Junior World Championships completed a unique sweep for the women of Team USA.
With Schmidt’s title, the American women have now won the 800 free at every major international meet this summer. That includes:
- Katie Ledecky‘s world record-setting gold medal win at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia
- Badger Swim Club pro Lindsey Vrooman‘s World University Games gold in 8:26.67 from Gwangju, South Korea
- Schmidt’s 8:27.54 meet-record win at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada
- And now Schmidt’s 8:27.55 championship-record performance at the Junior World Championships in Singapore
That’s a pretty impressive run of dominance for the American distance crew as a whole. If you add Ledecky’s win at last summer’s Pan Pacs, the U.S. women have won major international 800 free titles in nearly every continent: Ledecky in Australia (Pan Pacs) and Europe (Worlds), Vrooman and Schmidt in Asia (World University Games and Junior Worlds) and Schmidt in North America (Pan Ams).
With Ledecky still the heavy favorite for next summer’s Rio Olympic Games, we could see South America added to that list.
A few more major takeaways and/or statistical oddities from day 2 at the Junior World Championships:
- Romania’s Robert Glinta wasn’t the biggest name coming into the meet, but he went undefeated in semifinals and finals of the 100 back while setting two new meet records. Glinta accounts for Romania’s second gold medal ever at the Junior World Championships, and its first medal of any kind since 2006, when Ionela Cozma won the 800 free and took second in the 50 and 100.
- We saw what is perhaps a shifting of mindsets on the mixed relays today, with the top two teams in the mixed medley eschewing the conventional wisdom of putting the two male legs at the beginning. Though all 6 medal-winning teams followed that oft-used strategy at Worlds, the Russian and Australian juniors instead elected to base their orders around their top swimmers. Russia used Anton Chupkov and Daniil Pakhomov on breast and fly to great success. One of just two male butterflyers in the pool, Pakhomov obliterated the field of women, propelling his team from 5th to 1st. Meanwhile Australia chose to save its best male leg for the anchor. Once there, Kyle Chalmers, also one of just two men in the pool, blasted a 47.68 split, moving from 6th to 2nd. There’s something to be said for getting clean water for your female swimmers on a mixed relay. But there’s also clearly something to this new strategy of letting your top male athletes draft off of the leading relays, picking off their female counterparts at will. If nothing else, it certainly makes the races more exciting for spectators.
- It was a tough day for MA: American Michael Andrew is taking on a painfully-full event lineup, and the pain will never be greater than on day 2. Andrew swam 5 races within a roughly-two-hour finals session, and 7 races total for the day. It definitely took its toll, with Andrew gaining time in each of his finals swims, missing every individual medal and missing the final of the 100 fly. But the day wasn’t completely without success. His 1:59.86 in prelims of the 200 IM was one of the best swims of the entire meet so far, and he came through with a solid breaststroke split on the mixed medley to help the Americans win bronze – Andrew’s first World-level medal.